Broccoli with cheese sauce is a longtime American favorite, served at countless tables throughout the country. You can vary the flavor by using different cheeses, such as Swiss or Fontina, but a good, sharp Cheddar is my hands-down favorite choice for this comfort-food dish.
Trim the thick stalks from the broccoli heads and discard. Cut the heads lengthwise into halves or thirds, depending on size. Bring water to a boil in a steamer pan. Arrange the broccoli on the steamer rack, place over the boiling water, cover, and steam until easily pierced with a fork, about 15 minutes. Drain, and cover to keep warm.
Meanwhile, make the sauce. In a saucepan over medium-high heat, melt the butter. When it foams, remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the flour to make a thick paste. Return to the heat and slowly pour in the milk, whisking constantly. Bring to a boil, continuing to whisk. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened, 7–10 minutes. Stir in the salt, black pepper, and cayenne and continue to simmer, stirring occasionally, until the mixture has thickened, enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 10 minutes longer. Add the cheese and stir just until melted, about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat.
Arrange the broccoli pieces in a warmed serving bowl and pour the hot sauce over them. Serve at once.
© 2013 All rights reserved. Published by Weldon Owen.